A meeting of female Democratic senators backing Hillary Clinton’s campaign Monday had one glaring omission, but no one mentioned it. In fact, some in the room seemed to suggest that it wasn’t happening.
Thirteen of the 14 women from Congress’ upper chamber met for a fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Washington. Not joining them was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has not yet endorsed Clinton’s campaign.
But you wouldn’t have known that if you listened to the speeches.
“It’s an honor to be here with all of my Senate female colleagues,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said.
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp mentioned a letter that all the Democratic women senators, including Warren, signed in 2013 urging Clinton to run.
“There are a great number of women senators who are Democrats, and led by our fearless leader Barbara Boxer, almost two years ago, we all signed a letter and the letter said ‘run, Hillary, run,’ and we promised Hillary, if she picked up this mantle we would be with her,” she said to cheers.
Warren’s absence was not necessarily a slight or an indication that she won’t end up endorsing the Democratic front-runner at some point. But Warren is largely seen as the standard bearer for the party’s liberal base—who many hoped would challenge Clinton for the nomination—and withholding her endorsement is one way of lobbying the candidate to move in her direction.
Clinton herself seemed to note the dynamic when she wrote for TIME’S 100 most influential people of 2015 that Warren “never hesitates to hold powerful people’s feet to the fire: bankers, lobbyists, senior government officials and, yes, even presidential aspirants.”
Warren has been openly critical of Clinton, criticizing the then-Senator in her book The Two Income Trap for not supporting a bankruptcy bill in 2003.
In July, Warren called on the presidential candidates to oppose a revolving door between positions in the White House and Wall Street—but it was a line largely aimed at Clinton. Warren has taken tough progressive positions that have set her apart from Clinton, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone Pipeline.
But now that Clinton has said she opposes both the TPP and Keystone measures, the gap between the two most powerful women in the Democratic Party has narrowed. (Warren declined through a spokesperson to comment on her thoughts on the presidential race.)
Warren counts some of the country’s most committed grassroots Democrats among her fans. Many members of the 8-million-strong group MoveOn.org are deeply supportive of her, as well as those among the approximately one million members each in Democracy for America and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee.
But the attendees at the Hyatt on Monday largely reflected a wealthier Beltway crowd, many of whom paid $2,700 to enter the event.
Flanked by the thirteen female senators, Clinton gave a version of her stump speech, calling for automatic voter registration, paid family leave, a defense of Planned Parenthood and stringent gun control measures, delivering well-rehearsed lines.
She also gave a nod to her former Senate crew standing in the room beside her.
“I am so excited to be here and to have this chance to stand on the same stage with my friends and former colleagues,” Clinton said. “Aren’t they an amazing group?”
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